Your baby’s need for Iron

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Highlights
  • Adequate intake of Iron is important to your baby’s development.
  • All infant formulas are Iron-fortified.
  • Around the middle of the first year, introduce Iron-fortified infant cereals.

Adequate Iron intake is important to support brain development, learning ability and contributes to baby’s growth. The first year of life is a crucial time for growth and development, as your baby’s birth weight triples and brain size doubles.

As your baby reaches the middle of their first year, their iron supplies from birth are low and they need iron in their diet from breastmilk, formula and solid foods such as infant cereal. To ensure your baby is getting enough iron, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends feeding your baby iron-rich infant cereal or meat twice a day to meet their daily iron needs.

GOOD TO KNOW

Not all cereals are created equal. Make sure your baby cereal is fortified with iron. Also don’t replace baby cereal with adult/family cereals or plain oatmeal that may not have the same amount of iron.

Iron myths: Busted

As important as Iron is to your baby, it sometimes suffers from a bad reputation. It has been blamed for a host of problems in babies—such as fussiness, constipation, and digestive upset. There’s no medical basis for the belief that Iron in Iron-fortified infant formulas causes problems. In fact, scientific research has demonstrated that Iron in your baby’s diet provides many benefits.

What happens if a baby doesn’t get enough iron?
Lack of Iron over time can lead to Iron deficiency or even to anemia in severe cases. Depending upon its severity, Iron deficiency can have serious consequences such as:

  • Slower physical growth.
  • Delayed motor skills.
  • Decreased social behavior.
  • Lower learning ability.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Digestive problems.

Avoid cow's milk

Cow’s milk is not recommended as your baby’s beverage before your baby is at least a year old. Replacing breastmilk or infant formula with cow’s milk too early can also result in low iron intakes. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that the only acceptable alternative to breastmilk during the first year is Iron-fortified infant formula.

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